Activism through Music during the Apartheid Era and Beyond documents the grassroots activism of Sharon Katz & the Peace Train against the backdrop of enormous diversity and the volatile social and political climate in South Africa during the early 1990s. Among the intersections of race, healing and the "soft power" of music, Katz offers a vision of the possibilities of national identity and belonging as South Africans grappled with the transition from apartheid to democracy. Through extensive fieldwork across two countries (South Africa and the United States) and drawing on personal experiences as a South African of color, Ambigay Yudkoff reveals a compelling narrative of multigenerational collaboration. This experience creates a sense of community fostering relationships that develop through music, travel, performances, and socialization. In South Africa and the United States, and recently in Cuba and Mexico, the Peace Train's journey in musical activism provides a vehicle for racial integration and intercultural understanding.
Ambigay Yudkoff is an independent scholar.
Chapter 1: Get on the Peace Train
Chapter 2: Creating a Platform for Musical Activism
Chapter 3: Glimpses of Musical Activism on a Transcontinental Journey
Chapter 4: Tracking and Triangulation through Film
Chapter 5: Replicating the Peace Train Model in the United States
Chapter 6: The Peace Train Rolls On
Ambigay Yudkoff has written a beautiful account of the musical activism of South African born music therapist and multilingual singer Sharon Katz. In the wake of the release of political prisoner Nelson Mandela and others in 1990, Katz created a "Peace Train," a large South African interracial youth choir for purposes of racial and cultural reconciliation, collaboration between strangers, who literally traveled South Africa and the United States in a train. This is not a conventional story about music and politics but far more about the need for social and emotional healing through singing together in the post-apartheid era. It is one of a few books on musical activism as a mode of social reparation and intercultural understanding that has value well beyond 1990s South Africa.